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OSHA temporary enforcement effort targeting health care facilities with COVID-19 patients

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Washington — OSHA recently announced the start of a three-month increase of inspections at hospitals and nursing care facilities that treat COVID-19 patients.

Running through June 9, the enforcement effort will focus on “targeted high-hazard” health care facilities. The inspections are intended to verify employers’ readiness to address current or future COVID-19 surges/variants. OSHA said it will conduct follow-up inspections at establishments that were previously issued citations and those at which the agency didn’t conduct in-person inspections after receiving complaints.

The initiative is intended to supplement OSHA’s revised COVID-19 National Emphasis Program, in effect since July 7. Together, they’re expected to make up 15% of the agency’s enforcement activity.

OSHA is working on a permanent standard on COVID-19 focused on health care workers after withdrawing on Dec. 27 the non-recordkeeping parts of an emergency temporary standard.

“We are using available tools while we finalize a health care standard,” OSHA administrator Doug Parker said in a press release. “We want to be ahead of any future events in health care.”

Employers’ continued compliance with the ETS, the release adds, will satisfy their obligations under the General Duty Clause, as well as OSHA’s standards on personal protective equipment and respiratory protection.

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